Category: Pasta

Pasta

Can You Freeze Ziti?

Ziti is a popular pasta shape and is often used in a baked casserole dish. If say, you cooked too much ziti or you have a lot of baked casserole leftovers, can you freeze ziti? Yes, you can freeze ziti and save the leftovers for a weekend meal. You can also make baked ziti in advance to bring to a potluck. However, experts have conflicted views when it comes to prepping the ziti for freezing. Should you freeze ziti before or after it’s been cooked?

Raw, uncooked ziti has a long shelf life. There’s no need to freeze the uncooked pasta but you need to keep it in an airtight container. As far as cooked ziti goes, it’s best to season and bake the pasta prior to freezing. Cooking the pasta without seasonings (just boiled and salted) and then sticking it in the freezer increases the likelihood of flavor and texture changes once it’s defrosted.

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Also, since you’ll be cooking the ziti a second time, the pasta will become soggy once it’s been thawed and recooked. So our vote is to complete the cooking process as opposed to par-cooking the pasta before freezing.

The extent of the freezing conditions will determine how long the ziti will keep in the freezer or fridge. When kept in the fridge, cooked ziti will keep for a week or so. Freezing ziti will extend its shelf life to 2 months or more as long as the freezing temperature remains a steady 0°Farenheit.

The fact is, bacterial growth is highly likely if the ziti is kept between 40°F and 140°Farenheiht so you should never leave baked ziti sitting at room temperature for long. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze ziti:

How to Freeze Ziti?

If you’re cooking and/or baking the ziti from scratch, you have to leave the dish to cool completely prior to freezing. If you don’t the shelf life of the ziti will be shorter. Once the ziti has been cooled completely, you’re ready to pack. We suggest dividing the dish into single or double servings to save space in the freezer as well as to make thawing less of a hassle. This goes especially for large batches of the dish. Instead of thawing the whole slab of baked ziti, you can simply take the right amount you need for a meal and keep the rest in storage.

To pack the dish for freezing, get a slotted spoon, a roll of aluminum foil, and freezer-safe resealable plastic bags. Lay a couple of layers of aluminum foil on the counter and scoop ample portions of ziti into it. Wrap the dish with aluminum foil carefully, making sure to cover the dish completely. The folds should not expose the dish to freezing temps otherwise, freezer burn will set in.

Image used under Creative Commons from alanagkelly

Once the ziti has been wrapped in aluminum foil, place the entire thing in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date and stick in the freezer. You can always freeze par-cooked ziti the same way.

How to Defrost and Reheat Ziti?

To defrost frozen ziti, just transfer the dish from the freezer to the fridge. Leave the ziti to thaw for several hours to overnight. Slow defrosting is essential to maintain the original taste and texture of the dish. If you’re pressed for time, you could also submerge the packed dish in tap water for at least 30 minutes. This method is great if you are planning to eat the dish right away.

To reheat the ziti, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, transfer the thawed dish on a pan lined with parchment and stick in the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is melty and bubbly then serve immediately.

Summary

Baked ziti makes a fabulous make-ahead meal. It’s comforting, filling, and nutritious. Now that you know how can you freeze ziti, you can whip up a large batch and enjoy the leftovers for later.

Pasta

Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta

You just made a huge pot of fresh pasta and you know you made too much. Can you freeze cooked pasta leftovers? That’s the question that comes to mind. The solution is simple; you can freeze it and use it later. However, the pasta will not taste as fresh as when you first cooked it, but at least you will not be wasting it. Thankfully, you can use sauces, herbs, and spices to help give it flavor again and some tastefulness.

How do you freeze leftover cooked pasta?

You freeze leftover cooked pasta by pouring it into a small or large freezer container. You want to make sure though that you are not freezing mushy over-cooked pasta because when you go to defrost it, it will just turn into complete mush. You want your pasta cooked, but firm in texture. Once you have your pasta in a freezer container, you can seal it shut and store it in the freezer where it will keep fresh for up too 2 weeks. Keeping the pasta frozen longer is not recommended since the texture and flavor will change drastically.

Cooked pasta with sauce

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What is the proper way to defrost the cooked pasta?

When you want to defrost the pasta, all you do is remove the container from the freezer and place the pasta, which will be in a solid block directly into a pan of boiling water until it defrosts and the pasta heats up. The defrosting process in the pan of boiling water takes about 5 to 7 minutes. As soon as the pasta is warm though you will want to remove it from the boiling water using a strainer and toss it into whatever sauce, spices and herbs, butter or dressing you are flavoring it with so it has a chance to absorb those flavors and become tasty again.

With that said, you will notice when you go to eat the pasta that it has a slightly different texture that is sometimes mushier or chewier than usual. It will still be good to eat up as a quick meal, but if you still have leftover pasta from the second meal you get out of it you should just toss it out. Otherwise, you will be risking food poisoning, which you definitely do not want.

End Notes to Keep in Mind

Overall, freezing pasta is not a good idea, but it can keep you from wasting leftover cooked pasta. It is always best to measure out the exact portion of pasta you need, cook it up and eat it the day it is fresh. It will have the best texture and flavor and you will not have to worry about using any leftovers up within a given amount of time.

It is also important to keep in mind that is never wise to freeze leftover cooked pasta with sauce on it. Trying to defrost cooked pasta with sauce on it only dries the pasta dish out more and makes the pasta extremely hard in texture. This is because you typically have to defrost cooked pasta with sauce on it in the microwave.

When it comes to homemade pasta you have made yourself from scratch and cooked up, freezing the leftovers is not wise. This is because freshly made pasta from scratch dries out during the freezing process and becomes chewy and hard in texture.

The only pasta you should ever freeze is the box kind you cook up. This is because this form holds the best texture and flavor when you do freeze it when you have tons left over and it is the easiest to defrost when you do want to eat it up.

Pasta

Can You Freeze Lasagna

It can take some effort to prepare Llasagna so many people like to freeze it to make for an easy heat-and-serve meal. It is also a favorite housewarming and new baby gift. Lasagna keeps very well in the freezer, and can be thawed and reheated with very little loss of quality.

Freezing Lasagna

Lasagna can be frozen either before or after it is baked. If you plan on freezing lasagna, it is best to prepare it in a dish that is safe for the freezer and the oven, making for an easy meal. Glass and ceramic baking dishes are both good options. Metal pans should be avoided, as the lasagna could take on a metallic taste over time. Freezing leftover lasagna in single-serve slices is another way to make a convenient weeknight dinner. There is very little difference in flavor or texture between pre-baked and unbaked frozen lasagna, so the choice is a matter of convenience. Many people like to prepare two lasagnas at the same time, and freeze one to enjoy later. This also helps save money, by allowing you to buy in bulk, or otherwise use up as many ingredients as possible.

Lasagna should not be frozen if it was made using frozen ingredients. The thawing and refreezing allows for the introduction of harmful bacteria, which increases with each freeze and thaw cycle. If you choose to use frozen ingredients, make sure they have only been frozen and thawed once before, and make sure to bake your lasagna thoroughly prior to freezing it.
Slice of lasagna

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Prior to freezing, lasagna should be cooled to room temperature, or placed into the refrigerator to chill. This will improve the quality of the lasagna when reheated. Chilling the lasagna will also make it easier to cut into single-serve slices, if you desire. It should be wrapped air-tight with plastic wrap, or individual slices can be stored in plastic bags. Make sure to wrap it well to prevent freezer burn and drying. If you prefer, you can line your baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and once cooled lift the lasagna from the pan to transfer to a suitable freezer container. This way, you can keep using the baking dish, rather than having it in the freezer. Lasagna can be kept for about three months in the freezer.

Thawing Lasagna

Lasagna should be fully thawed prior to reheating or baking, to ensure even cooking. The best method to do this is to place it in the refrigerator the night before, allowing it to slowly thaw. Lasagna can also be thawed in the microwave or placed in a cold oven, allowing the oven to heat up around it, but this may affect the taste and texture of your heated lasagna. Once thawed, lasagna should be covered in foil to prevent excess browning (especially if pre-baked), and cooked in a 350° oven for 30-40 minutes, until hot all the way through. The foil can be removed in the last 10 minutes of cooking if you desire additional browning. Individual portions can also be reheated in the microwave. Keep your lasagna chilled until ready to cook it, to prevent bacterial growth. Your lasagna should taste as good reheated as it did originally! Some people even prefer reheated lasagna, as it allows the flavors to meld.